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Climate Action: Is Veganism the Answer to Creating Positive Climate Change?

Disclaimer: This article discusses topics that may relate to eating disorders which could be distressing to some readers.

Climate change & global warming

As climate temperatures increase, so does the pressure for us to do something about it. According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, we have 32 months, less than 3 years to get it together. Before 2025, the levels of greenhouse gas emissions must peak and by 2030 carbon emissions must be cut by 43%. Reports state that ‘it really is now or never - if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C’ as Jim Skea, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights in their latest report.

There are a variety of methods that can be taken to help tackle the climate change crisis; amongst them are changes to agriculture, food systems, and individual diets.

The Earth's temperature is rising at nearly twice the rate it was 50 years ago, with scientists concluding not only natural cycles can be causing this increased rate and pattern of warming. There is more awareness amongst the society of the environmental impact fossil fuel emissions are having on the planet, but animal agriculture is responsible for at least 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Farming foods have a variety of impacts on the climate and global warming; not just greenhouse gasses, but land use, water use, and global acidification add to this effect. Joseph Poore of the University of Oxford who led a new research study stated “Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems. Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.”

Six scary FACTS about climate change

1. Climate change could be irreversible by 2030.

A report conducted by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), presented urgent action is needed in order to avoid the catastrophic effect of global warming. Without change taking place, the world’s coral reefs could become completely eradicated, alongside this, we could see widespread flooding, extreme heat, drought, and poverty.

2. Greenhouse gas levels are at an all-time high.

There are more greenhouse gases present within the atmosphere than ever before, which are seriously causing the Earth’s temperature to rise; the burning of fossil fuels, emissions created from various forms of transport, alongside the environmental impact of intensive farming have all contributed to the increasingly high levels of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. Scientists state that this is the fastest and largest increase in CO2 the world has ever experienced.

3. More than 1 million species face extinction.

While the expected rate of species extinction is usually around five species a year, we are currently losing up to 10,000 times more than the normal rate, meaning that dozens of species are going extinct every single day. Alongside this, the presence of biodiversity in the natural world is reducing levels of food security and water quality within habitats, which is also resulting in a loss of natural pest control as predators such as fogs and spiders become extinct.

4. Climate change is creating a refugee crisis.

As global warming and temperature increase, millions of people are feeling their homes to avoid the impacts of extreme weather including drought and intense storms. The International Organisation on Migration estimated that up to 200 million people could be displaced by climate change by 2050. Around 50% of all carbon emissions are emitted by the richest 10% of the world’s population, and global warming is making climate change refugees extremely vulnerable and poor.

5. Our oceans are dying.

Our planet is only as healthy as its oceans: the United Nations has warned that marine life faces irreparable damage from the million tonnes of plastic waste that end up in our oceans every year. Half of the world’s coral reefs have died within the last 30 years, and two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef has been severely damaged due to coral bleaching and sea temperature getting too high. Whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sea lions all suffer from the threat of bycatch from global fishing; hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are accidentally caught or critically injured by fishing gear every year.

6. We use more of the Earth’s resources than it can renew.

Earth Overshoot Day is the date the world used up more from nature than the planet can possibly renew in the entire year - and every year, that date comes earlier and earlier. The United Kingdom and the United States use more than double the amount of resources they’re able to produce; if this level of consumption of Earth’s resources continues to occur at the current rate, we’d need 1.7 planets to support the demand on the Earth’s ecosystems.

Climate action & the power of individuals

Everyone can do their part and help prevent the effects of climate change by taking climate action, but we can only have a positive environmental impact and help improve the health of our planet if we act now.

Save the planet. Go vegan.

Start taking action towards positive environmental change by considering your current food diet and adopting more vegetarian and vegan food habits - if everyone in the world became vegetarian, emissions could be cut by 60%, and this would rise to 70% if everyone went vegan.

Benefits of going vegan

According to WWF’s Livewell report, taking the switch and adopting a vegan diet is one of the biggest ways individuals can cut their personal carbon emissions, as vegans have the lowest carbon emissions of all dietary types.

There are many benefits of going vegan; both for good of the planet and for our own health. Dr. Marco Springmann, leading author of the research, explains that “Imbalanced diets, such as diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in red and processed meat, are responsible for the greatest health burden globally and in most regions”.

Alongside this, it is recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund that we consume ‘no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, and eat little, if any, processed meat’ within our daily diets.


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